NEW PARIS — Despite having four starters returning, National Trail’s girls’ basketball team is going to be young and limited on depth.
As Troy Ferguson begins his 10th season at the helm of the Blazers’ program he has only nine players in the high school program and won’t have a junior varsity team this winter. He also has just one senior.
Ferguson expects some inconsistent play early in the season as his team adapts to new wrinkles being put in the playbook.
“We return four starters, but are still young. We may see some ups and downs early, but we will work those out and we expect to compete night in and night out,” he said. “We’re working on continuing to be a very good defensive team. Offensively, we’re doing a lot of new things and we will be ironing out some wrinkles here early, but the kids are really starting to get things where we don’t have to think about it any longer. Our expectations are that we have more energy and enthusiasm and our effort level is always high. We feel with those things we will compete every night.”
Returning for Trail, 6-17 last season, is its top scorer and leading rebounder, Payton Laird. She is a four-year starter.
Also back is junior and three-year starter JaLynn Byrd, who was the team’s second leading scorer and rebounder from a year ago.
A pair of sophomore starters also return to the starting lineup for the Blazers.
Savanna Abner is coming off a season where she was really playing well before a season-ending injury, according to Ferguson.
Evan Byrd will again be counted on to defend opposing team’s best player.
Key newcomers to the team include freshman Makena Laird, who will contribute right away and will play any of the five positions at some point in the season.
Two other freshmen, Davlyn Werner and Kelsey Patrum, will see time as well. Werner “really gets after it defensively and continues to improve offensively for us” while Patrum “does a good job for us in the post on both ends of the floor,” according to Ferguson.
Ferguson said juniors Haley Baker and Charisse Hoblit both will see minutes and can contribute at both ends of the floor.
The Blazers were scheduled to open the season on Tuesday, Nov. 29, by hosting Dixie. They will also host Northeastern (Indiana) on Thursday, Dec. 1.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH